CHIEF U.N. WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR URGES ARREST OF TOP FUGITIVES IN THE BALKANS
Serbia is able but not willing to arrest top Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn said on Thursday (30 March) after meeting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s leader Adnan Terzic in Brussels.
“We have a reasonable assumption that Serbia could arrest Mladic if it had the political will and if this political will was translated in concrete steps through the whole administration including the secret and intelligence services,” Mr Rehn said, according to Balkans agency DTT-NET.COM.
The statement comes one day before UN war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte flies from Belgrade to Brussels to give her opinion on whether the EU should suspend Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) negotiations with Serbia.
The EU is due to start the third round of SAA talks with Serbia on 4 April, but the commissioner refused to say if he will take a decision on the issue on Friday (31 March) or on Tuesday.
The SAA is the first legal step toward future EU membership for the Balkan country.Chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte pushed Serbia anew for the extradition of war crimes suspect Gen. Ratko Mladic, as Serbia neared a European Union deadline to arrest him or face sanctions.
Del Ponte met with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and President Boris Tadic in Belgrade Wednesday to discuss efforts by Serbian authorities to arrest and extradite Mladic, a former Bosnian Serb army commander wanted on genocide charges.
The EU has given Belgrade until the end of March to find Mladic and hand him over to the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, or face a suspension of talks – set for April 5 – on building closer ties with the bloc.
Serbian officials recently requested an extension of the deadline, saying more time was needed to hunt down Mladic, who was believed hiding in Serbia under the protection of army hard-liners. But the EU apparently turned down the request.
Tadic said in a statement after his meeting with Del Ponte that “even though the tribunal’s credibility eroded after the latest events, Serbia has to complete its cooperation with” the court.
Del Ponte is to report to EU ministers Friday in Brussels, Belgium, on her trip. According to a Serbian government statement on the meeting, Del Ponte said her report to the EU would depend on “concrete measures” taken by Serbian authorities to bring Mladic to justice.
“The suspension of the talks with the European Union would have far-reaching negative consequences for the political stability and democratic reforms in the country,” the statement said.
Del Ponte refused to speak to the media after the talks.
Del Ponte’s visit to Belgrade was her first since the death on March 11 of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in his prison cell near The Hague, where he was on trial for war crimes for his part in the bloody breakup of the country in the 1990s.
Milosevic’s death has jeopardized Serbia’s efforts to hand over more war crimes suspects to the U.N. tribunal. Ultra-nationalists have threatened to topple Kostunica’s government if Mladic and other Serb war crimes suspects are extradited to the court, which they consider anti-Serb.
Del Ponte also stopped Wednesday at the military base of the European Union peacekeeping force near Banja Luka in Bosnia, where she pressed the Bosnian Serb prime minister for the capture of another top war crimes suspect, Radovan Karadzic. He is believed to be hiding in the Serb-controlled half of Bosnia.
Mladic and Karadzic, the former political leader of Bosnia’s ethnic Serbs, were both indicted in 1995 on charges of orchestrating the massacre of over 8,000 defenceless Muslims in the U.N. enclave of Srebrenica – Europe’s worst genocide since World War II.
The level of Belgrade’s cooperation with Ms del Ponte’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has deteriorated since last year when several Serb indictees were handed over to The Hague, Mr Rehn explained.
“We have a very clear statement in the framework Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) that we can not conclude the agreement without full cooperation with the ICTY,” he said.
“If [the] European Commission sees that there is deterioration of cooperation we must act.”
The ICTY has charged Mr Mladic and the former political leader of Bosnia’s Serb community, Radovan Karadzic, with crimes related to the killing of 8,000 Bosnian muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995.
Ms del Ponte believes Mr Mladic is hiding in Serbia with the help of Serbian army officers, while she says that Mr Karadzic moves between the Republika Srpska region of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.
The Serbian government on Wednesday asked for Ms del Ponte’s patience on the Mladic issue, given the fragile political scene and the strong nationalist sentiment in the country.
Bosnian prime minister Adnan Terzic denied some of Ms del Ponte’s claims, saying “according to the data we have Mladic and Karadzic aren’t in Bosnia, but their supporters are.”
He added that full EU membership for the western Balkans is the best way to avoid the tragedy of the 1990s from happening again.
“We survived one cataclysm. We survived the EU’s mistake at that time, but now the question is what is going to be the point if some member states make another mistake which the EU wouldn’t be able to survive?” Mr Terzic said.
His remarks were a veiled reference to France, Germany and the Netherlands which have lately begun to question if the EU can take in any more states after Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.
But the prime minister added he was “encouraged” by Mr Rehn’s “reaffirmation and confirmation” of the region’s EU membership perspective, despite the “dissonant tones” from member states.
Bosnia and Herzegovina launched SAA talks with the EU last November, with Mr Rehn on Thursday urging progress in police, legislative and economic reforms.
A LIFE IN DENIAL OF TRUTHS
BY ROY GUTMAN
Author: Nenad Popovic
The founder of the Zagreb-based publishers Durieux reviews a major new book on Srebrenica by Sylvie Matton, who spoke at a recent Bosnia Institute forum
Review of Sylvie Matton, Srebrenica: un génocide annoncé, Flammarion, Paris 2005
On the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the French writer and journalist Sylvie Matton asked herself a very simple question: How come that mass suffering began there in 1992; that for three years tens of thousands of people of all ages, from nursing babies to the very old, experienced chronic famine and death in this small area; that in 1995 this huge concentration camp turned into a place of systematic execution of its inhabitants; that thousands of survivors continue to endure the distress of living in the miserable conditions of refugee existence?
Since the author was not one of those who directly witnessed the war and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the area of the former Yugoslavia, she searched for answers in documents, articles, film material, court testimonies and books. Faced with an ever growing number of disparate and contradictory accounts, she conducted in parallel interviews with some key personalities on the international political stage: high UN officials, government ministers, generals, negotiators and diplomats – such as, for example, former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine, Swedish politician Carl Bildt, French generals Bernard Janvier and Jean Cot.
Sticking to the simplest method, the author obtained the most devastating of all possible result, filling nearly four hundred and fifty pages. As early as June 1991 (does anyone still remember Vukovar?) Western intelligence services informed their politicians of Serbia’s true intentions in regard to the war of territorial expansion accompanied by ethnic cleansing. Again, in the months before the attack on Sarajevo the West had accurate information on the positioning of the JNA’s artillery around the city. Again, France and Great Britain spent years manipulating other members of the Security Council in favour of the creation of a large Serbian state in the Balkans, at the cost, moreover, of genocide than in progress. Again, Karadžić’s order Kill them all! was recorded by the West’s monitoring services and forwarded to those higher up. …
They all knew all. Not only was it possible to save Srebrenica, it was possible even to prevent the war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and thus the killing of some 200,000 people and the dispossession of millions who have lost their homes and families and have come to suffer permanent physical and mental disabilities.
Sylvie Matton’s book would not be an exceptionally important and great work, if all this were merely stated. It is important because the author has taken the trouble to reconstruct every telefax sent from Srebrenica, every comma and every half sentence she has managed to uncover; and to use it all to embarrass her esteemed interlocutors (she is masterly with Bildt); to put together exact tables of the movements of the important protagonists; to learn the type, rhythm and approximate number of telephone conversation made at the height of the Srebrenica crisis by Yasushi Akashi; to measure the distance between two rooms at the UN headquarters in Zagreb (where misunderstandings occurred, telephones malfunctioned, etc); to learn about the warning words addressed every Monday at 2 o’clock by Mitterrand to his inner cabinet, whenever someone mentioned Serbia; to record the size of the fees earned by General McKenzie lecturing in Canada and the United States as an alleged expert on Bosnia; to establish in which laboratory in the Netherlands the films that Dutch soldiers had made of the mass executions in Srebrenica were lost or spoilt; to analyse how UN documents were crossed out or falsified (they were crossed out and falsified so many times by people working within the organization’s hierarchy that sometimes the truth managed to come through, along with contradictory passages, impossible dates, words revealing knowledge of something not registered in the text in which they appear).
This is why this book makes you shiver, despite the passage of time. Or, more accurately, today more than ever. Liars, self-important officials, mental or indifferent malefactors like Boutros Boutros Ghali, pathetic careerists like Kofi Annan, snobs like Yasushi Akashi, unscrupulous creatures like Douglas Hurd, form a gallery of individuals who speak here with their own words and deeds – while ‘down there’ genocide is running its course, characters called Izetbegović and Saćirbegović are banging on the door, a country is falling into complete chaos, and blood flows in rivers.
The Eichmann Syndrome
One shivers because the genocide in Srebrenica – which for the author is but the finale of a methodical implementation of the strategy of ethnic cleansing of the projected Serbian state – was not just foretold. The book’s title moderates the results of the author’s own research. Her work is investigation for prosecution: it was known from the start what was happening; possible indeed to predict in advance in every detail what would happen, yet the killers were not stopped. On the contrary. To be sure they were stopped in the end, but only when the thing became unbearable; when, for example, Al Gore had to explain to his young daughter the meaning of a picture in an illustrated magazine showing another young woman pushed by despair into hanging herself from a tree.
One may be tempted to say that all this is already known. But that is not true. We don’t, we didn’t know, at least not ‘all’. What was suspected, what appeared discernible, is here analysed, checked and laid out to form a large and logical picture, with a depth of frightening extent. For Sylvie Matton is also very militant. Rejecting the cynical political discourse, she puts in italics ethnic cleansing (it being genocide) and safe area (meaning concentration camp); and when she quotes phrases about the killing of Muslims, she puts Muslims too in italics because it is people who were being killed. She leaves not a millimetre of space for excuses, suppositions and relativism. She speaks throughout like a citizen: revolted, disgusted, compassionate and, possibly also, frightened by what she has uncovered.
This is expressed not only through her solidarity with the victimised. She also provides fitting portraits of those higher and lower powerbrokers on the international scene who had the courage, morals and passion to do something, to resist. Here we come across persons whom we may know only superficially, but who paid for their efforts with being belittled, pressurised, held back in their careers, embittered. Worse still is that the political and bureaucratic class, intent on brushing everything under the carpet, ensured that such moral individuals should appear in the eyes of the public as involved in the same crimes as all the others. Yet there is a world of difference between people like Tadeusz Masowiezki, who resigned because Srebrenica was not saved; Florence Hartmann, the author of an early book on Milošević; the French ambassador George-Marie Chenu, who recorded what people really said; Margaret Thatcher, who was laughed at for demanding intervention; the impotent Alija Izetbegović, who was made to shake hands with the butcher of his people before cameras in Paris; and on the other hand cowards like the Dutch colonel Karremanns, who took with him from Srebrenica a bottle of plum brandy given to him with a smirk by Ratko Mladić; or François Leotard, though the latter, formerly the French minister of defence, did summon up enough courage to tell the truth publicly ten years later, albeit in the form of a novel entitled no more or less than Nostalgic Life of the Jelly Fish.
Sylvie Matton, by contrast, was not given to writing poetry. Her precise chapters – different people will find different chapters to admire in particular: I myself was singularly impressed by the passages on the deadly manipulation in diplomatic language, as well as by the episode in which General Morillon of his own will and contrary to orders prevented the invasion of Srebrenica on 12 March 1993 – guide us in a disciplined manner towards the inevitable and unbearable finale, when she confronts us in an equally disciplined manner with , for example, the description of a baby’s decapitation in front of its mother’s eyes. The mother fainted in response.
Although a documentary work, this book is not an account of genocide like that of Roy Gutman or David Rohde. On its cover, the word Srebrenica signifies far more. Its stands for Auschwitz, just as the trial in The Hague stands in her book in place of Nuremberg, and just as the image of Adolf Eichmann, the pale and indifferent killer behind a typewriter, floats before our eyes as we read it. The book appears in this regard as an exemplary investigation into contemporary civilisation. A civilisation which, as we know, produces every now and then little Hitlers in the persons of Pol Pot, Radovan Karadžić, or Osama Bin Laden. Sylvie Matton helps us to understand this better. She shows how the Eichmann syndrome still remains operative.
Translated from Dani (Sarajevo), 3 March 2006
Anger at BBC genocide film
· Linda Melvern, author of A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide, argues in The Observer today that the film is inaccurate and misrepresents the BBC’s role in reporting the atrocities.
History? This film is fiction
Chechnya: In Remembrance of Genocide; World Chechnya Day
Will We Just Sit By As Darfur Suffers?
Contact Luanne Austin at 574-6292 or email@example.com
BOSNIAN FORCES FOUGHT FOR DEMOCRATIC & MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETY
– Human Rights Watch (HRW) found, in accordance with the above mentioned study, that Serb forces committed most war crimes in Bosnia. A 1996 report by the HRW accounts for the systematic and deliberate expulsion of Bosniaks and other non-Serbs from northwestern Bosnia, implicating a notorious war criminal Zeljko Raznjatovic a.k.a. Arkan and his paramilitary Serbian troops in “implementing” the policy of ethnic cleansing.
– A study by the Amnesty International titled Bosnia-Herzegovina Gross Abuses of Basic Human Rights divulges the complicity of Serbia and Croatia in aiding and abetting Serb and Croat side in the Bosnian war. According to this report, Serbia and Croatia provided both political and military support to Bosnian Serbs and Croats.
– U.S. Department of State writes in its 1994 report on the war in Bosnia that only Bosnian Serb forces engaged in the policy of ethnic cleansing. The report further discloses the fact that Bosnian Serbs received full support from Belgrade. Furthermore, this report demonstrates that Bosnian Serbs sought to create a “Greater Serbia” by ethnically cleansing Bosnia of all non-Serbs. This report also corrects the common misconception of the Bosnian government forces as “Islamic fundamentalists”. As the report makes perfectly clear, the Bosnian government forces fought for a multiethnic society….
Read more at Alan Kocevic’s blog.